Thousands of doctors stage a sit-in?at Yeouido in?Seoul Friday (Yonhap)
Medical students across the country decided Tuesday to boycott the state licensing exam and school classes in protest of the government's plan to increase the number of medical students.
The Korean Medical Student Association said it has approved proposals for the collective actions following a survey of its members conducted over the weekend.
The group said 81.5 percent of applicants for the state qualification exam for medical practitioners are in favor of the boycott. The test is scheduled for Sept. 1.
It added 91.3 percent of respondents said they support the proposal for a collective leave of absence from classes.
"The planned collective actions could damage students and disrupt medical services. Nevertheless, students are willing to endure such damage," the group said.
As part of the country's medical workforce reform plan, the health ministry is planning to expand admission quotas at medical schools by 4,000 over the next 10 years, starting in 2022, and to open a new public medical school as it seeks to broaden the reach of health care services.
This will increase the number of students admitted annually to medical schools to 3,458 in the 2022-2031 period from the current 3,058, according to the plan.
The Korea Association of Medical Colleges, a group of 40 medical colleges and schools nationwide, called on medical students to ditch plans for collective actions.
"It is the time to postpone talks over the sensitive medical policy and instead protect people from the COVID-19 pandemic at a time when the new coronavirus is fast spreading in the greater Seoul area," the association said in a statement.
To protest the government's plan, trainee doctors and doctors staged strikes earlier this month, spawning concerns over possible disruption of the health care system during the pandemic.
Trainee doctors, such as interns and resident doctors, threaten to stage an indefinite strike on a staggered basis starting Friday. (Yonhap)